Many things were discussed and decided at the recent NSW Uniting Church Synod, an annual gathering at which church members and leaders can discuss issues relating to the organisation, progress and vision of the Church, but a few highlights for us out here were:-
1) The Multicultural worship.
Organised by Katilina Tahaafe-Williams (UME team member responsible for multicultural/Cross Cultural Ministry) several choirs, musicians and dancers worshipped our Lord with exuberance and joy.
2) Worship time.
More time was allocated for worship and prayer thus setting the emphasis on God Himself rather than purely on business, thus setting a thankful and wise context to discuss the practical issues.
3) Presentation from the Rural Church
Prepared by Bronwyn Murphy (UME team member responsible for Lay Ministry, Education, Discipleship and Rural Ministry)and congregation members from the West, it showed the vibrancy and life within the rural church and what it has to offer the wider church. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the notes from the table discussion which followed.
4) Rural Ministry Unit Dinner
Although a little limited due to time constraints, hopefully participants enjoyed the presentations by Knox and PLC students of their visit to Enngonia school and their experiences there and the general discussion on happenings beyond the black stump where God is inspiring His people to follow Him in new ways. The following flyer was placed on the table to show just one example of adaptation and resilience in the rural church.
Beyond the Black Stump
The Merriwagga Pub stands opposite the site of just one of the places claiming to be the original Black Stump. The story tells of a drover’s wife who burned to death at her campsite while he was away. When he returned there was nothing left but a black stump.
Set in the Riverina Presbytery and in the middle of the Hillston-Gunbar parish this pub is also the place where Hillston –Gunbar church holds its lunch time church council meetings. It’s less distance for everyone to travel.
This willingness to do something a little different to make things work tells something of the resilience of the rural church and its willingness to go out into the community to practise their faith and be known there as God’s people. It also puts money back into the small town of Merriwagga, an action appreciated by the locals.
5) Murray-Darling Proposal.
This proposal held much interest for those in the West affected by recent government decisions about water allocations. It was encouraging that this proposal to 1) look closely and seriously at the issues surrounding water and land use and 2) consider the provision of food for the nation and 3) for the church to be a voice for justice, was passed by such a majority. It is encouraging when ears in the east hear the voices of the west and are willing to work together to make it better for us all.
6) Requests for Involvement in Rural Ministry
A flyer was circulated which outlined ways city, or larger centre, churches could participate in ministry west of the mountains, in small rural churches or unchurched communities. It had some exciting ideas for involvement but more on that next week!